This year Dining Services at the University of Rhode Island has embarked a new initiative in order to be more conscious about Sustainability. Our Dining Team placed a focus around composting and local sourcing, as well as promoting and spreading the knowledge of our sustainable initiatives!
In 2017 we established a relationship with a local vendor for compost waste, which has allowed us to divert a large amount of our food waste out of landfills. This vendor then processes the compost waste and creates beneficial compost for local farmers, gardeners, and other citizens of Rhode Island. This was a great start to grow Dining’s own composting initiative, as well as a great foundation to grow our composting efforts.
URI Dining Services other sustainable initiatives have been based around the locality of some of our products that we source and serve in our dining halls. These products have mainly been produce and seafood products for this current year.
For produce Dining Services has been able to work with our primary produce vendor, Roch’s Fresh Produce, to code out local produce products we are receiving through them. This information has allowed us to create and display statistics based on our total sustainable purchasing power, and allowed us to derive percentages of locally sourced produce items from month to month. Our best month for sourcing produce products locally this academic year has been in September of 2017 at a percentage of about 25% of our produce was sourced locally in just Rhode Island! From year to year Dining will work on increasing these percentages in order to become more of an influential buyer in our local economy, as well as supplying tasty and extremely fresh products to the population of URI!!
Localized seafood products was another focus for URI Dining Services this past year. Dining has been able to source and serve a total of 9 local catch of the month meals which have come directly from local seafood harvesters and processors. Most of these meals have come directly out of the surrounding waters of Pt. Judith, and served in our dining halls just a few days later. We have brought in 6 different local species of fish for the population of URI to explore over the course of the academic year. Sourcing local seafood products is a main focus of URI Dining Services because of the close relationship the ocean has with the State of Rhode Island. Dining Services will continue to grow this local sourcing initiative in all areas in order to become more of a sustainable operation at one of Rhode Island’s main institutions, The University of Rhode Island!!